What inspired you to write your latest book The Fiancé?
The idea for The Fiancé started with a meet cute scene (my favourite scene both to read and write!) that popped into my head. I pictured a sexy man in a tuxedo and a woman in a catering uniform stuck in a closet together, while a whole group of paparazzi waited outside.
The heroine, Ava, falls victim to being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and something innocent like them both hiding out in a supply closet ends up looking totally guilty from the outside. From there, I started to wonder how these two people ended up in the closet together and how they were going to get out of this awkward situation. It seemed like the perfect set up for a fake relationship story.
We love the fact that The Fiancé features a plus size heroine! Can you tell us a bit about your heroine Ava Matthews?
Being plus size myself, I’ve had a growing desire to write more curvy heroines who’ve worked hard to love themselves and find confidence in who they are. Ava is exactly that. At the start of the book she’s having a terrible time—her landlord is kicking her out, she can’t get a job in her field and her mother is trying to marry her off to a guy she hates. Talk about the day from hell!
But Ava isn’t the kind of person to let difficult things hold her back. If I had to describe her in one word it would be: persistent. No matter what challenges are thrown at her, she holds her dreams high and refuses to settle.
If you could/wanted to turn the book into a movie, who would you cast?
Ashley Graham immediately springs to mind for Ava. She’s gorgeous, confident and has the right sassy attitude that I think would suit Ava perfectly.
Richard Madden (who played Rob Stark on Game of Thrones) would perfectly capture Daniel’s smouldering seriousness with a hint of vulnerability.
Now we’ll have to see if either of them can do a decent Aussie accent!
The Close Quarters series is all about people who live in an apartment building called 21 Love Street, which is a fictional building in South Melbourne, Australia. Each story stands completely alone, but the series is loosely based around a group of female friends that forms over the course of all five books.
The great thing about writing this series is being able to come full-circle. There’s a scene in book #1 that takes place in the same art gallery that is featured heavily in book #5, including the closing scene where all the characters from the previous books come together.
What do you enjoy about writing for the DARE series?
So many things! For starters, I really enjoy the focus Dare has on strong female characters who aren’t afraid to go after what they want, both inside the bedroom and out in the world. I’ve really enjoyed writing these types of heroines and the strong female relationships they build into my Dare books. It’s great to see women lifting other women up!
I’ve also had the opportunity to push the boundaries of my writing style by dialling up the heat and trying out first person narrative, which is something I hadn’t done before. It was great fun!
How would you describe your ideal romantic hero?
A tough, sexy exterior hiding a heart of gold that only the right woman can unlock. Bonus points if he’s wearing a suit.
What does your writing routine usually involve?
Before I sit down to write chapter one, I think a lot about the characters. I want to know who they are, what things have happened to them in the past, their strengths and weaknesses etc. This information helps me to craft a couple who create good push and pull, and who will challenge one another to grow and become better people.
Once I start writing, the story could go anywhere. I’m more of an organic or discovery writer (which means my synopses don’t always get followed to the letter…sorry editors!) as I often need to spend a good portion of the book really getting to know the characters on a deep level. This is especially important for writing a black moment and happily ever after that hits all the right notes, because it’s something I can’t always see clearly before the book is written.
Other than that, I get my butt into my office chair every day and write.
What’s in your TBR pile at home?
So. Many. Books. We moved house a few months back and…yeah. There were a lot of books. A few that are begging for a weekend of solid reading include:
- Faefever by Karen Marie Moning
- Atomic Habits by James Clear
- Angel’s Blood by Nalini Singh
- An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
- Demanding His Hidden Heir by Jackie Ashenden
Finally, can you give us a hint about what you’re working on next?
I’m always juggling a few projects at different editorial stages, but I’m working on an exciting new series for Harlequin’s HQN imprint, tentatively titled Paws in the City. The first book, The Dachshund Wears Prada is a romantic comedy featuring a woman who’s gone viral for all the wrong reasons, a reclusive billionaire hero and the most outrageous animal sidekicks you’ve ever seen. It’s loads of fun!
I’m also preparing for the final Close Quarters book, The Player, to come out. This story features a heroine who designs boardgames and a hero who is her sexy next-door neighbour. It’s got a fun “frenemies to lovers” vibe with a sash of opposites attract story and you get to revisit all the heroines from the previous books. It was bittersweet to wrap this series up; I had a blast writing the Close Quarters books and truly hope that my readers have enjoyed getting to know these characters as much as I enjoyed creating them.